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Calling Akbar, the Mughal, the father of the nation is an insult to history and common sense

On Saturday, an extremely convoluted and strange article was shared on social media. Tufail Ahmed, who is a former journalist and commentator, shared an article which asserted that Akbar the Mughal is the real father of the nation and not Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The article was authored by a man who is quite well known for his eccentricity and his illogical stance on many issues, Markandey Katju.

The entire article focuses on Akbar’s alleged tolerance for people of all faiths and communities. But it appears to be the case that Akbar was quite the Islamic bigot during his early years. It was only later that he developed a profound respect for other religions and a deep disdain for Muslim clerics. And according to some accounts, he returned to the fundamentalist aspects of Islam again towards the end of his life.

Both Katju and Tufail Ahmed appear to be unaware of what a nation means and what nationhood truly represents. A nation represents a people united by ancestry, common heritage, traditions, culture and inhabiting the same piece of land for centuries. Considering the ideology Akbar was wedded to and his ancestry, Akbar was, by all means, an outsider to the Indian subcontinent. Since he was essentially a Muslim, it is still understandable if Pakistan considers him the father of the nation but for Hindus, whom he and his ancestors and descendants oppressed and pillaged and raped and murdered, it is nothing less than an insult to the memory of our brave ancestors who resisted the assault on our civilization.

The author states in his article, “To remain united and progress the only policy which can work is the policy of Akbar, that is, giving equal respect to all communities and sects. That is why he is the real Father of the Nation.” It is unadulterated garbage. Akbar the Apostate may have accomplished great things but he did not represent our nation nor was he one of us. It has become fashionable to critique Gandhi’s stature as the father of the nation and I even agree that Gandhi shouldn’t be considered the father of India but to assert that Akbar was the real father is sheer idiocy spurred by an inane urge to appear secular.

India is more of a civilizational state than a nation-state and over the course of our glorious history, we have had great monarchs who have accomplished astonishing feats. Considering the magnitude of our history, it appears quite impossible to imagine a single person who deserves the title of Father of the Nation. But a person who can be granted that title may be Bharata, the ancestor of the Pandavas and Kauravas, after whom India is still called Bharat today.

If Bharata is too ancient a monarch to deserve that title, then, perhaps we could consider Samudragupta as a contender for the title. But maybe we should consider another monarch, one who is regarded by many wise scholars as the greatest Hindu king to have ever lived, for the honour of being called the Father of the Nation. I speak, of course, of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the legendary king who conceived and achieved the dream of Hindavi Swarajya.

When Shivaji Maharaj entered the arena, the Mughals had complete control over most of India. He laid the foundations of the Maratha Empire and by the time Maratha Empire was done, the Mughals were reduced to paupers. It was Shivaji who breathed new life into an ancient civilization and for his vision and contribution towards ensuring the continued existence of the Hindu Civilization, he is perhaps the best contender for the title of Father of the Nation.

There is a small problem, however. Shivaji Maharaj no doubt paved the way for Hindavi Swarajya. But there have been several great Hindu dynasties and great Hindu kings throughout the tumultuous medieval period who kept alive the flame of Dharma. There was the Vijayanagara Empire and its great monarchs who valiantly resisted the invaders in the South. There was Lachit Borphukan who vanquished the Mughals in the Battle of Saraighat. There were Prithviraj Chauhan, Maharana Pratap and a great many others who made a valuable contribution towards the Hindu cause. Under such circumstances, it is really impossible to honour just one among them as the Father of the Nation.

For intellectuals to ignore the plethora of great Hindu Kings and designate a Mughal as the Father of the Nation for the sake of secularism is disgusting and remarkably obtuse, to say the least. It also shows that they do not quite fully appreciate India’s significance and stature in the world. India is the last heritage of the Hindu civilisation.

It is our inheritance bestowed on us by the valour of our ancestors and the glory of their sacrifices. India has a special role to play in the world’s destiny as apart from Japan, it is the only pagan power in world politics today. India may be officially a ‘secular’ country but at its heart, its soul is still Hindu. And a Mughal can never be called the Father of a nation the soul of which is Hindu.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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